Progesterone regulation of endometrial factors supporting conceptus growth and development in the ovine uterus
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Progesterone is unequivocally required for the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy in all mammals studied. Its known functions are complex and encompass global changes in gene expression. Therefore, studies were conducted to characterize the effects of progesterone on expression of genes for endometrial factors having roles in conceptus growth, implantation and establishment of pregnancy. The first study characterized the effect of an artificially induced early increase in circulating progesterone on conceptus growth and development and regulation of expression of galectin-15 (LGALS15), a recently identified protein secreted by the ovine uterine luminal epithelium (LE). Exogenous progesterone beginning on Day 1.5 post-mating accelerated conceptus development on Days 9 and 12. On Day 12 the conceptus was functionally and morphologically advanced to produce greater quantities of interferon tau (IFNT) than blastocysts from control ewes. Further, the endometrium responded to early progesterone and IFNT with early expression of cathepsin L (CTSL), radical S-adenosyl methionine domain containing 2 (RSAD2), and LGALS15 within the endometrium. The second study identifed structural changes within the luminal epithelium which could alter the flux of factors into and out of the uterine lumen to maintain appropriate fetal/maternal communication. In this study, progesterone reduced quantities of proteins associated with both tight and adherens junctions during the elongation period. IFNT subsequently increased these proteins after conceptus elongation. The third and fourth studies identified progesterone-regulated genes which have been implicated as having importance to implantation in sheep, mouse, and human. WNT signaling was transiently downregulated by progesterone, while members of several growth factor families are upregulated including insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) 1 and 3, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and fibroblast growth factor 7 (FGF7), which may enhance conceptus growth. Collectively, these studies assess the role of progesterone in altering gene uterine expression to establish a favorable environment for conceptus development. The long-term goals of these studies are to establish biomarkers of receptivity to conceptus development and implantation, enhance our understanding of gene and pathway regulation in early pregnancy loss, and identify genes which may be targeted in therapeutic strategies to improve reproductive success in humans and animals.
Satterfield, Michael Carey (2008). Progesterone regulation of endometrial factors supporting conceptus growth and development in the ovine uterus. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from